Rosetta now on top of the Ariane 5
The Rosetta spacecraft probe was mated to its Ariane 5 launcher on 16 February, marking another key milestone in preparations for Flight 158's lift-off later this month.
This activity took place in the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building at Europe's spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana. The photograph at the top of this page shows an overhead crane hoisting Rosetta up inside the Final Assembly Building. This underside view shows the compact dimensions of the EADS Astrium-built spacecraft, which accommodates the scientific payload and subsystems in a 12-cubic-metre platform. Rosetta will start its 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with 1650 kilograms of propellant on board, accounting for more than half its mass at lift-off. Once in the vicinity of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the spacecraft will spend more than six months mapping and observing the comet.
High inside the Final Assembly Building, Rosetta was lowered into position on top of the Ariane 5 launcher. The large dish is Rosetta's 2.2-metre diameter steerable high-gain communications antenna. After launch, the antenna will swing into position away from the spacecraft, allowing the dish to be pointed toward the Earth during Rosetta's long mission, scheduled to end in December 2015.
This view shows Rosetta after its installation on the Ariane 5. Partly visible on the spacecraft's left upper side is the 100-kilogram lander that will be released for a soft touchdown on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The lander carries nine experiments with a total mass of about 21 kilograms, and a drilling system that will take samples of the comet's subsurface material.